Permanent or Portable? This is a distinction that decides much about your bench choice: Is it to remain stationary or must it fold, roll, or otherwise make itself scarce between jobs? Large, heavy benches are more stable and, in general, more adaptable to different jobs (sometimes several at once). But the bigger the bench, the more hassle involved with stowing it.
Thanks Chris! I found this page while looking for a link to your e-mail address. I recently finished your erudite volumes on workbench design, and am about to embark on my own bench inspired by your take on the Holtzapffel design. As my vices and planer arrive, I’ve been agonizing over whether to use SYP or rough maple for the top. I don’t have a big budget, so all-maple is not an option. But after reading your ten tips here, I’ll stop agonizing — all SYP it is! This is, after all, my first of what I hope are at least several handmade benches. Your scholarship and craftsmanship are truly inspiring.

The Real Wood Bible I love to pull this book off my shelf from time to time and learn about different characteristics of a certain wood. What’s the wood used for? How easy is it to turn? Toxicity? It’s a very useful book with lots of great photos. Let’s say you have a piece of wood you need to identify. The photos are very crisp and defined so you can match a wood you possess to one found in the book.
The ultimate in cabinet design inspiration. Fantastic photographs, coupled with a little bit of information on each piece, is more than enough to give you that nudge to go ahead and try something different with your next cabinet. From surface decoration to using different materials, non-stan­dard shapes to unique finishes, there’s a taste of everything for everyone. You won’t learn how any of these pieces are made but it will make you wonder. 500 Cabinets is the extension of the “500” series by Lark Books and, like the rest, this one will delight readers of any skill level. It will even interest those who know nothing at all about woodworking. There are many Canadian makers included. This is a col­lection I’ll refer to over and over again, because each time look through it I’ll do so for a different reason, getting some­thing different each time. This one rarely makes my bookshelf … it’s always right on my desk. And of the collection here, this is my favourite.
When this book showed up at my studio I was very sceptical. Yet another “book of every­thing”? But after spending only five minutes skimming through it, I learned about a couple of storage ideas my shop needed, some cool new jigs that would come in handy and a few tricks to make my time in the shop more enjoyable and productive. There will be hundreds of ideas in here you will have no interest in whatsoever, but that’s all right … there are over 650 ideas in total, so some are sure to tickle your fancy.
The Real Wood Bible I love to pull this book off my shelf from time to time and learn about different characteristics of a certain wood. What’s the wood used for? How easy is it to turn? Toxicity? It’s a very useful book with lots of great photos. Let’s say you have a piece of wood you need to identify. The photos are very crisp and defined so you can match a wood you possess to one found in the book.
This book was put together to introduce people to the world of carving, and I think it does a great job. Starting with tool selection, sharpening and other important, but often overlooked as­pects of the craft, it moves on to discuss chip, relief and sculptural carving. With a chapter on surface decoration as well as a section of scaled patterns to get you started, this book has a bit of everything. And even if you’re not interested in traditional carving projects, the skills learned in this book will introduce you to techniques that can be used to add texture to your next furni­ture project.

My advice? Don't do this. If you have jointer and a planer, use them. If you don't, seriously consider using dimensional lumber that has already been planed and sanded. If you are going to try to clean up construction lumber by hand, using a hand plane is a lot faster and more pleasant than using a belt sander. Except, of course, that to do a good job of planing a board you need a solid bench to hold the board, and you don't have a bench, yet.


A bewildering variety of tools, clever marketing copy, and lack of knowledge can lead even the most determined new woodworker to make many unnecessary purchases, causing frustration or retreat. Written for true beginners, Your First Shop offers inspiration and encouragement, guiding readers toward smart tool choices by providing realistic, reliable information. Best-selling author Aimé Ontario Fraser started working with wood in high school, and has taught extensively in workshops and classes since. Your First Shop brings that experience to readers. Woodworkers of every taste can find a shop style that works for them in one of the book’s four sections: The Essential Shop, The Basic Shop, The Efficient Shop, and The Well-Rounded Shop. Topics include how each tool is used and what it is used for. The book also offers extensive advice on choosing a location for the shop, maximizing available space, and planning for future expansion.

Being a lover of Japanese design and tools, I’m embarrassed to say I only picked this book up in the last year. I was anticipating a straightforward, almost encyclopaedic, approach documenting the history and use of most Japanese woodworking tools. I got that, but also so much more. The stories Odate tells of his youth and apprenticeship are truly jaw-dropping, and reveal as much about working wood in Japan as what life in a fascinating and secluded Pacific country was like when he was young. I was five minutes into this book, and I guess I had an astonished look on my face, when my wife politely asked how I was enjoying the book. I looked up in bewilderment, paused for about five seconds, and said “It would take me an hour to explain what I’ve learned in the last five minutes,” and went on reading. Even though this book has been around for decades, it’s worth reading today.
Texture is the surface quality of a material. Texture has great potential to connect the observer emotionally to the work, inviting the person to touch and explore it. On a chair, for example, the texture of fabric can tempt persons to sit in it or immediately reject it. Smooth surfaces reflect light and can appear shiny making a piece feel light. Heavily textured surfaces absorb light. When considering texture, look at it from all angles and under different light conditions to see the full impact of its surface. To help determine scale with texture, the guidelines under pattern and proportion can also be followed.
David Ellsworth has been refining his style for years and now, with his first book, you get to see exactly how the “grandfather” of turning does it. Offering more than just turning infor­mation, a number of chapters in this book discuss top­ics that non-turners will be interested in. Having said that, turning is the main focus here. Ellsworth speaks to what he knows best – an open bowl, a natural-edge bowl and the highlight of the book, a hollow vessel with an impossibly small opening. He also covers basics like sharpening, design, finishing and more. One chap­ter even details the stresses that turning puts on the human body and how to get the most from this overlooked “tool”. A crucial read for a wood-turner and an enlightening read for a woodworker. 
“This hardcover book with internal spiral binding is 6.5in x 8in, a perfect size for carpenters and woodworkers to keep near their workbench or toolbox for quick access.The design of this book allows it to lay open flat, which allows for easy and frequent reference, and the interior photographs, illustrations and diagrams, make the learning process simple and fun for beginners, and provides useful tips for more advanced readers.
With a pencil and a protractor, divide the larger disc into 30-degree wedges to create 12 center lines for the bottle indents. Center and trace the smaller disc on top of the larger disc. Next, with a drill press, drill 3/8-in.-deep holes on the 12 center lines with the 1-7/8-in. Forstner bit, spacing them between the disc’s outer edge and the traced circle. Next, divide the smaller disc into 60-degree wedges and drill six more 3/8-in.-deep holes with the Forstner bit.
With the top laying on the floor, bottom side up, the next step is to flip the base upside down, and attach it to the top. I followed Asa Christiana's design, in using s-clips. When I stopped by my local Woodcraft, though, they only had two packages of ten, so I didn't use as many as I would have, otherwise. For the top I put four on each side and two on each end. For the shelf I put three on each side and two on each end. If it turns out that I need more, I can always add more.
Tools: I am inspired by tools, whether the tool is a good chef’s knife, a watercolor paintbrush or a lowly marking gauge. I find 18th-century tools particularly beautiful and elegant in their simplicity. To openly admit I am inspired by my tools makes me somewhat of a kook. But here, amongst friends, I suspect I am not alone. I’ve copied many tools in these books and sought tools that resembled these and been a happier person for it.
All-in-all, the Windsor Design workbench is a nice companion, especially if your budget is limited. It is not as deeply designed and perfected as the other two benches, as there is only one vice, the bench dog holes are drilled through the surface (allowing debris to fall to the top drawers) and the drawers can be a little flimsy if you are not using glue for assembling it, but for the price they offer, there are plenty of perks.
Skirting tradi­tional woodworking – sometimes seem­ingly allergic to it – this book shows you things you didn’t think were possible with wood, and many things you wish you had thought of first. The variety of the finished pieces is won­derful and makes for a nice read. Including 89 artists in total, each brief section con­tains background information, inspirational thoughts and technical details on how each artist completes their work. Wood Art Today 2 covers furniture, turnings, boxes, sculptures and more. One of the things I like most about it is you can open it up to any page and start learning about a specific artist and the work they do. This one is a lot of fun. 
The original design had a height of 35-1/8". Their two-layer top was 1-1/2" thick, so their legs were 33-5/8" long. I want a height of 35", but I'm using a top that's 3" thick. My basement floor is anything but level, so I'm using levelers that are adjustable from 3/4" to 1-1/2". In other words, I want legs that are around 31-3/4" long. (If you're not using levelers, your legs need precise lengths. The levelers give about 3/4" of adjustment, so precision is less necessary.
Big Book of Scroll Saw Woodworking. This book is jammed packed with scroll saw projects. Sixty projects to be exact. Topics include working with patterns, choosing materials, and blade selection. The projects are from many contributing experts on scroll saw woodworking. You’ll learn to make puzzles, boxes, toys, baskets, intarsia, portraits. Projects range from beginner to advanced.
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I'd intentionally made it oversize, intending to trim it flush. Trimming is a little more complicated than usual, because I needed to trim it flush on two faces. The end face extended a good 3/8", so I cut off most of the excess with a circular saw and the edge guide, then flipped the edge guide upside down to make a stable platform for the router. Aside from the use of the edge guide, flush trimming the edge face was unremarkable.
Slice, dice and serve in style on this easy, attractive board. We’ll show you a simple way to dry-fit the parts, scribe the arc and then glue the whole thing together. We used a 4-ft. steel ruler to scribe the arcs, but a yardstick or any thin board would also work. Find complete how-to instructions on this woodworking crafts project here. Also, be sure to use water-resistant wood glue and keep your board out of the dishwasher or it might fall apart. And one more thing: Keep the boards as even as possible during glue-up to minimize sanding later. For great tips on gluing wood, check out this collection.

If you opt for a bench with drawers or cabinets built into its base, don’t forget the toe spaces: Leave a space roughly three inches deep and four inches wide at floor level for your toes, just like kitchen cabinets. The absence of a toe space means you’ll be forever kicking the face or sides of the cabinets which is irksome and, with tools in hand, potentially dangerous. And you’ll have to lean over farther to reach the back of the benchtop.

The edges of MDF are fragile, easily crushed or torn. MDF is also notorious for absorbing water through these edges, causing the panels to swell. In Sam Allen's original design, he edged the MDF with 1/4" hardboard. This edging is one of the complexities that Asa Christiana left out in his simplified design. I think this was a mistake. MDF really needs some sort of protection, especially on the edges.


The holes we want to mark are the holes through which the threaded rod connecting the two legs will run. This threaded rod will run through the 3/8" groove along the bottom of the short stretchers,. The hole for the upper stretcher has to be positioned so that when the rod is running through this groove, the top of the short stretcher is even with the top of the legs. The most precise way I've found for marking the position of this hole is to use a dowel center. Fit the dowel center into the bottom groove, line up the stretcher, and bang on the end with a rubber mallet. The dowel center will leave a mark indicating the center of the hole.
Sjobergs’ woodworking benches are recognized all over the world for their durability, handy design and extra features that make these benches well worth the money. This Hobby Plus bench is the perfect fit for a woodworking enthusiast, especially since it is equipped with two vices and bench dogs. This could become your one and only woodworking station!
Clamp the inner jaw of the end vise in position, leaving a little bit to trim off later, and then use the dowel and dowel center trick through the screw and guiide rod holes of the vise base plate to mark the position of the screw and guide rod holes in the jaw. Remove the jaw and drill 1-1/8" holes in the marked positions. I used the drill guide for most of the holes, and drilled freehand for the last bit. When you're starting a spade bit in a deep hole like this, start the drill very slowly, and the bit will move the drill into a perpendicular position. Start it too fast and the bit will bind and you'll damage the sides of the hole.
Next is the shelf. Start with the 24x48" piece of MDF. Clamp this on top of the base, and pencil in the outside of the stretchers and the inside angle of the legs. Flip it over, pull out your trusty cutting guide, and cut it to width and to length. Cutting out the angles is simple, with a jig saw. It's not much work with a hand saw. If you took enough care with supporting blocks and stops, you could probably do it with a circular saw. Since I did have a jig saw, I used it.
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Clamp the inner jaw of the end vise in position, leaving a little bit to trim off later, and then use the dowel and dowel center trick through the screw and guiide rod holes of the vise base plate to mark the position of the screw and guide rod holes in the jaw. Remove the jaw and drill 1-1/8" holes in the marked positions. I used the drill guide for most of the holes, and drilled freehand for the last bit. When you're starting a spade bit in a deep hole like this, start the drill very slowly, and the bit will move the drill into a perpendicular position. Start it too fast and the bit will bind and you'll damage the sides of the hole.
We cut the supports 16 in. long, but you can place the second shelf at whatever height you like. Screw the end supports to the walls at each end. Use drywall anchors if you can’t hit a stud. Then mark the position of the middle supports onto the top and bottom shelves with a square and drill 5/32-in. clearance holes through the shelves. Drive 1-5/8-in. screws through the shelf into the supports. You can apply this same concept to garage storage. See how to build double-decker garage storage shelves here.

Olympia Tools is a bit of a lesser known manufacturer. While they offer a wide range of products for a variety of construction fields, they are definitely more of a budget option. That said, Olympia Tools is one of the few brands that manages to produce a reasonable quality at a low price which makes them a solid choice for customers looking to get the best bang for the fewest bucks.
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